More jobless Pinoys amid stellar growth

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MANILA - Joblessness rose to a three-year high in April amid record economic growth as new graduates flooded the job market while unfavorable weather conditions stymied hiring in the agricultural sector, officials said yesterday.



Based on the National Statistics Office (NSO) Labor Force Survey, unemployment reached 7.5 percent in April, up from 6.9 percent in the same period last year. The current unemployment rate was the highest since the eight percent recorded in 2010.


Sought for comment, President Aquino read a text message from Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan attributing the decline in employment to effects of the scorching summer heat on agricultural productivity.


“It was reported that farmers delayed their planting in April. Unfortunately, the survey also was done in April. So, at the time they conducted the survey, there was a coincidence in the delay,” Aquino explained.


The country’s economy expanded 7.8 percent in the first three months of the year, outstripping China to make it Asia’s fastest-growing economy.


For Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz, the unemployment rate is traditionally high during April due to the large number of young people joining the labor force after graduating from college or high school.


 “There is a usual increase in the number of workforce in April because of the high number of new graduates, that is why the increase in number of jobless is expected,” Cruz said.


In the NSO survey, the number of employed nationwide went down to 37.819 million in April from 37.840 million in the same period last year.


The survey also showed that the number of jobless people in April ballooned to 3.086 million from 2.8 million last year.


There were more males (61.4 percent) than females (38.6 percent) among the unemployed. Most of the unemployed belong to the 15 to 24 age group and are mostly high school and college graduates.


In the NSO report, the number of agricultural workers declined by 624,000 from 12.468 million in April 2012 to 11.844 million in April this year.


Workers in the services sector remained the largest group, comprising more than half or 52.6 percent of the total, while workers in the agriculture sector comprised the second largest group, accounting for 31.3 percent of the total employed.  Workers in the industry sector made up 16.1 percent.


Quality employment


But while job figures have dropped, the quality of employment has significantly improved, according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.


“What is very encouraging in the results is the fact that the overall quality of employment continues to improve considerably, with persons in full-time employment growing by 15.3 percent, or 3.194 million, and persons in part-time employment decreasing by 18.9 percent, or 3.063 million,” Baldoz said in a statement issued from Geneva where she is attending the 102nd International Labor Conference.


“As a consequence, the mean hours of work has vastly improved from 39.2 hours a year ago to 41.8 hours in April 2013,” she added.


Citing survey results, Baldoz said wage and salary employment during the quarter was up by 619,00 while the number of self-employed dropped by 143,000 and unpaid family workers by 398,000.


“This tells us that the Millennium Development Goal indicator on employment to reduce poverty, in terms of the ratio of the self-employed and unpaid family workers to total employment, is narrowing; wage and salary and full-time employment is expanding; and mean hours of work is increasing,” she explained.        


She noted that employment growth was particularly robust in private and government establishments.  Together, private and public sector employment expanded by 667,000 from a year earlier, she said. 


Underemployment, she said, decreased from 19.3 percent last year to 19.2 percent in April this year. But she said the latest job data should be viewed as a challenge to government and its private sector partners.


“Thus, if the low earnings can be directly related to our workers’ need to acquire additional skills or to upgrade their skills, which could be a reason why it is difficult for them to access other job opportunities, the DOLE’s immediate response is to offer them the Training for Work Scholarship of the TESDA,” she said.


University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations professor Rene Ofreneo said the government needs to do more to create jobs and make the country’s strong economic growth felt by more Filipinos.


“The message of the statistics is clear. The economy is growing but it is not translating to jobs for the people. Not enough jobs are being created,” he told The STAR.


To create more jobs, he said the government should give more attention to the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. He added the government should also address the high cost of power as well as rampant smuggling.


“Urban poor and rural poor areas are increasing. It cannot be business as usual (for government) anymore,” he said.  (The Philippine Star)